Top Prize

History Professor Dr. Ted Binnema won a Canadian Historical Association Clio Prize for his book Enlightened Zeal about the Hudson's Bay Company’s involvement in science.

Welcome to the Department of History

What is an Historian?

Historians study what people have thought, said, and done in the past, and they help students think critically about how historical processes shape the present. The study of history contributes to critical thinking, helps to develop intellectual maturity, and assists students to present ideas clearly and accurately. Courses in our department blend thematic and geographic approaches to the study of history. History as a discipline is very flexible and allows students to follow their own interests in their course selection and through independent research.

Careers

The learned skills prepare history students to excel in many careers, including in teaching, law, journalism, the civil service, politics, museums, libraries and archives, and universities.

Considering Law School?

In Canada, there are no formal pre-law programs, but the UNBC History Department is the perfect place to do the undergraduate courses to prepare you for law school.  You can enter law school after any undergraduate major, but a large percentage of students intending to apply for law school major in History.

Why is History such a good major?

First, historians define "evidence" in a way very similar to lawyers.  In history courses, students are taught to locate, extract, critically analyze and interpret evidence.  History professors mentor students to take evidence as far as it will go-but no further.  And they teach their students to read the work of others with that same critical approach. 

Second, history students are taught to write research papers with clear and compelling arguments.  While historians and lawyers define "evidence" the same way, they also learn that even the best evidence does not speak for itself.  Presenting a persuasive argument requires that the evidence be packaged in the context of a carefully planned, systematically organized, and convincingly delivered form, whether written or spoken.  Just as lawyers must be prepared to deliver carefully planned oral presentations, and cogent off-the-cuff responses and rebuttals, history students deliver prepared oral presentations and engage in spontaneous oral exchanges as part of classes and seminars.

Finally, history courses often deal with aspects of history of law.  Lawyers who are able to understand contemporary law in the context of its long evolution over time are much better placed to interpret and understand legal precedents than those without that background.

We in the UNBC history department believe that our program offers particularly valuable preparation for law school.  Several of our faculty members research and publish in aspects of the  history of law.  The department offers specialized courses in the history of law, crime, and punishment.  Moreover, even in courses not specifically geared towards the history of law (aboriginal history, Canadian history, medieval history), we incorporate topics in legal history into our courses.

If you are considering law school, we invite you to major in history at UNBC.  Let us know about your plans (and your particular interests) when you arrive.  That way, we can help you tailor your course selections to help you achieve your goals.

Our Teaching Objectives

  • To develop critical skills required to full and active citizenship
  • To foster independent learning through a variety of research and study techniques
  • To include students in faculty’s research through research assistantships
  • To encourage the application of skills in community involvement and employment
  • To increase students’ understanding of the emergence of the modern world, with particular emphasis on themes related to UNBC’s mandate

Courses focus on topics ranging from the local to the global

  • Indigenous peoples (Binnema, Holler)
  • Law (Wessell Lightfoot, Swainger)
  • Science (Binnema)
  • Gender and Sexuality (Wessell Lightfoot, Holler)
  • Borderlands (Binnema, Bryce)
  • Religion (Holler, Wessell Lightfoot, Bryce)
  • Medieval and Early Modern (Wessell Lightfoot, Holler)
  • Local and public history (Holler, Swainger, Binnema)
  • Environment and health (Binnema, Holler, Bryce, Swainger)
  • Colonialism and Imperialism (Binnema, Holler, Bryce)
  • Historiography (Holler, Lightfoot, Swainger)

Our faculty cover a broad geographic area

  • North America (Holler, Swainger, Binnema, Bryce)
  • Europe (Wessell Lightfoot, Bryce)
  • Latin America (Holler, Bryce)
  • World (Wessell Lightfoot, Holler, Binnema, Bryce)
  • Visit our faculty's research profiles

Why you should take HIST 190 and HIST 191

HIST 190 and HIST 191 (World History to 1550 and World History Since 1550) are designed as an introduction to the discipline of history. They focus on teaching students the foundational tools that historians use: how to read, think about, discuss orally, and write about primary and secondary sources; how to research specific topics using article databases, the web, and the library catalogue; and how to develop research questions. HIST 190 and HIST 191 cover broad time periods and geographical spaces, providing students with an overview of important issues, debates, events, and people in the past. The aim of these courses is to give students the necessary tools to succeed in more specialized history courses in their second, third, and fourth years. At the same time, these two courses provide students planning on majoring in another discipline with important writing and research skills and general knowledge about human societies. We encourage students to take HIST 190 and HIST 191 in their first year so that they develop these important tools right at the beginning of their university careers.